September 26, 2013

School District considering banning book during Banned Books Week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2013

CONTACT: Jana Kooren, 651.645.4097 x123 or jkooren@aclu-mn.org

St. Paul, MN – The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota sent a letter to the Anoka-Hennepin School Board urging them to keep Eleanor & Park in the library and to not take any action that would amount to censoring the book. The Anoka-Hennepin School District is considering removing the book from its libraries among other actions because a group of parents filed a complaint regarding the content and language in the book. The book was a part of the School District's summer reading program.

Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell is a critically acclaimed work of fiction for young teens, telling the story of budding romance between two teens who feel like they don't quite fit in. It deals with serious and relevant (to teens) issues such as sexual abuse, poverty, bullying, and romantic relationships.

"We are greatly concerned by removing books like this from the school libraries because they deal frankly and honestly with problems that teens face," stated Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN. "The ACLU believes it is our duty to ensure that our government maintains open access to all kinds of ideas and information. It is particularly ironic that this news surfaced during Banned Books Week when we should be promoting free access to books instead of debating their removal."

In a 13 page complaint submitted to the School Board on behalf of the Parent's Action League the group cited concerns with the book's use of profanity (they cited 227 instances) including 67 uses of the word "God", 26 uses of the word "Jesus" and four uses of the word "Christ".

"The fact of the matter is that teens encounter language and situations like this all the time. Many teens have open access to the internet, and view R rated movies where they would have encountered similar language and situations," stated Charles Samuelson. "It is up to the parent to decide if they should allow their children to read this book, not the school."

Read the letter sent to the School District: Letter_to_Anoka_Hennepin_School_Board_on_Eleanor_and_Park.pdf